Like us humans, horses regulate their body temperature through sweating. Sweating helps them to cool down in warmer weather and/or after exercise. Anhidrosis (or “dry coat syndrome”) is the name of the condition where horses suddenly lose their ability to sweat.
“The disease seems to be especially prominent in hot, humid climates, which makes the necessity of sweating all that more important,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutrition advisor with Kentucky Equine Research, Versailles, Ky. “It is most often associated with times when the nighttime temperature does not go below 80 F (27 C).”
Not all horses lose their ability to sweat entirely. Some horses will not sweat enough or not sweat in large areas of their body to properly cool them down. Anhidrotic horses can also display other symptoms like flared nostrils, increased heart rate, heaving and changes in their skin.
It is mostly unknown why horses develop anhidrosis, however, the condition can have a significant impact on the horse’s health and requires changes in care and management. As of today, there is no known cure for anhidrosis but different management strategies to help relieve the symptoms.
- Electrolyte and mineral supplementation after consultation with your veterinarian
- Naturally, a horse diagnosed with anhidrosis would be most comfortable living in a cooler climate.
- Keeping the horse body clipped and maintain a grooming routine to help their skin health (read more about the importance of grooming here: Why grooming your horse is so important - Health benefits you should know about!
- Providing shade and fans during daylight will help to keep the horse cool during the day, switching to a turnout during nighttime is also an option.
- Exercise during cooler morning or evening hours and monitor respiration rate.
- Cold hose to cool down horse properly after exercise and provide access to cold water at all times.
Tanja Schnuderl is a member with The Equine Expert LLC, a multi-discipline equine expert witness and consulting firm with expert equestrians offering legal expert witness and consulting services in court cases and legal matters. Tanja is an expert on Barn Management and Horse Behavior. She is the Barn Manager for Moon Rising Farm just outside Washington DC and Principal of Sigma Equine LLC, an equine appraisal business. Tanja grew up in Germany and was a paralegal for many years. For more information on Tanja Schnuderl email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.theequineexpert.com